Make It Happen
My Tipsheets are chock full of ideas. They are all aimed at translating knowledge into action...in a quick, action-oriented 60-second nugget.

First Name:
Last Name:
email:
Tipsheet Archive
Randall's Resources
Whenever I speak or write, I often prepare extra "bonus" materials.
Enter the Resource Code to access this special content:
Resource Code:
Try this example Resource Code: eventplanning

Content Marketing

Have you ever listened to a presentation, and felt the signal-to-noise ratio could have been improved?  Or have you ever delivered a critical presentation, and felt that you could have done better… but you were not precisely sure how?

Too often we add debris into our presentations.  These are those filler words, unrelated sidebars, and administrative notes that we unwittingly slip in.  They get in the way: debris obscures your point, distracts the listener, and extends the amount of time required to deliver your message.

An earlier post illustrated this, but left the question of how to fix the problem unanswered. Here’s how:

  • Record:  The only way to truly identify debris is to record yourself delivering your presentation, and then have your presentation transcribed, word-for-word.  Print out the transcription, and then use a highlighter to identify any words (or sentences or paragraphs) that don’t play a role in achieving the presentation’s objectives.   There is no getting around this step: if you don’t have your presentation transcribed, you will never see the evidence.
  • Re-edit:   After the debris is identified, re-edit the script of your presentation so that the presentation flows.  Every word needs to audition for a spot in your script.
  • Rehearse:  If the presentation is important, it is worthwhile rehearsing.  The idea is to rehearse so much that the “script” sounds natural.  Once this happens, begin the process again: record, re-edit, and rehearse.  Each time you go through this cycle, the signal-to-noise ratio will improve – as will your impact on the audience.

This week’s action plan:  This week, roll up your sleeves and start making the sharpest point: record, re-edit, and rehearse.

Communications insight:  This technique works is just as effective for day-to-day conversations and any written work.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

{ 0 comments }

In his 2003 Australian best-seller Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language, author Don Watson rails against lifeless, plastic corporate-speak.   He complains that too often, organizations hide behind their words, instead of connecting with their audiences with an authentic voice.  While he was writing about traditional communications, his point is doubly true in today’s digital age.

In the traditional top-down communications model, an official spokesperson spoke on behalf of the organization.  “Policy” guided interactions from everyone else.

Perhaps because of social media, or because of heightened global competition, or because of a demanding millennial generation, this pyramid – at least in the best organizations – is flipped upside down.  While there is still top-down leadership, there is (or at least there should be) bottom-up information flow and empowerment.  These front line touchpoints – and social media connections – generate “currency” and value within the context of the transaction. For the outside party, it influences the relationship and builds (or kills) brand equity.  For the organization, it provides valuable market intelligence and more data about the connection.

To maximize the “value” of this transaction in both directions requires an authentic relationship between two parties – and by this, I mean two people.  Yes, people are proxies for their organizations, but at the end of the day (and the beginning) it is a relationship between people.  Technology can help, but it can also get in the way.

Ironically, most tech companies use faceless, nameless “queues” when a customer has a question or requires support.  How often have you filled a webform or sent an email to info@ Amazon, Google, or you-fill-in-the-name?  When you do this, you receive an automated semi-canned response, with a request to respond “only above the dashed line and one of our operators [all named info@ by the way] will respond.”  Of course, the email conversation would go back and forth 3-5 times before being resolved – each time with a different operator.

While this modern day version of broken telephone may be frustrating for the outside customer, it is also imperfect for the organization.  Because the buck stops with no one person, there isn’t a mechanism for any market intelligence to flow upwards.

Contrast this with an interesting trend in municipal transit systems.  Go into any New York subway station, and you’ll see, framed, the name of the manager who has personal responsibility for the station or group of stations.

What does all of this have to do with language?  Everything.

  • When we post on social media, are we authentic, or are we speaking with a plastic corporate voice?
  • Are we connecting with others as individuals, or are we speaking from the policy book (or sales brochure?)
  • Are we opening the kimono and identifying ourselves as specific individuals who are responsible and accountable, or are we hiding behind info@, first names only, or even worse, a “queue”?

Don Watson’s complaints about poor communication are bang on the mark, but they are merely a symptom of something else: corporate laziness, and the fear of holding real people accountable for real results.

This week’s action plan:  If your organization does hold individuals accountable, test yourself:  what generic email addresses are listed on your website?  Do your social media posts have a personality – and an identified person – behind them?  And do your support requests go into a generic queue, or are they assigned to a specific person to follow through to resolution.  This week, go “public” with your accountability – and enjoy the dividend of improved real relationships.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

{ 0 comments }

Momentum Marketing

by Randall Craig February 6, 2015

What is the difference between a successful marketing campaign and an unsuccessful one?  Yes, ROI is certainly the standard answer, but it is also completely insufficient. A single marketing campaign is not very different than a car going uphill, battling gravity, with a driver giving a single pump of the gas pedal. The largest sport-utility […]

Read More

How to charge for content – or not

by Randall Craig November 14, 2014

You may have considered how content can be used to attract new members, new clients, or new partners.  But for all of the talk about Inbound Marketing, you are stopped by two simple questions:  If the content is so valuable, why should we give it away for free?  And if it isn’t valuable, then why […]

Read More

24 Branded Content Ideas

by Randall Craig October 17, 2014

Branded content can be loosely defined as content produced by an organization with two discrete (and overlapping) goals: to engage the ultimate content consumer, and to drive an organizational goal – often brand-building, competitive differentiation, or sales. Done well, branded content is an important engagement tool. Done poorly, it looks clumsy and self-serving. Here are […]

Read More

20 Year Internet Anniversary

by Randall Craig May 23, 2014

What were you doing on the Internet 20 years ago, circa 1993/1994?  At that time, there were only between 200 and 2000 websites, depending on how you counted.   Most people had no idea what the web was all about, and email was still a big leap for many organizations. 20 years ago was when I […]

Read More

Action Bulletin: Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

by Randall Craig May 14, 2014

There is no doubt that SPAM – unwanted commercial electronic messages – is a major problem.  It consumes internet bandwidth, clogs our inboxes, and saps productivity.  The solution – spam filters – often makes the problem worse by wrongly filtering legitimate communications into the junk mail folder. Another solution, legislation, has existed on the books […]

Read More

Cutting Through the Digital Clutter

by Randall Craig May 2, 2014

How much spam do you get in your email box each day?  Probably too much.  How many Social Media “updates” do you read each day?  Probably too many.  And how relevant are they?  Not. In the past, the challenge that marketers faced – cutting through the clutter – was solved by shouting louder, and shouting […]

Read More

Marketing Insight: White Papers and Inbound Marketing

by Randall Craig July 26, 2013

Nowadays, a white paper can be just about anything. In the olden days of the 1980s, it typically meant a definitive exploration of a specific topic, often 20 pages or more. The author (and their organization) would be recognized for this knowledge by the marketplace, resulting in queries, and eventually, new business. While some organizations […]

Read More

Inbound Web Contact Strategies

by Randall Craig July 5, 2013

Have you ever gone to a website, and for whatever reason, felt the need to actually contact the organization? You may have a product or service question, or you may have a technical issue that needs resolution. Or perhaps a billing error that needs to be fixed. Unfortunately, many websites have chosen to severely restrict […]

Read More

Marketing Insight: Improving Web ROI

by Randall Craig April 25, 2013

Does this sound familiar?  You have a website (or two), a marketing budget, and more than likely, a desire to grow.  It doesn’t matter if growth is defined as more event registrations, newsletter sign-ups, leads, or transactions – the problem is that too often, a web initiative doesn’t always pull its weight. There are four […]

Read More

Content Marketing and Thought Leadership

by Randall Craig February 15, 2013

One of the most important – and one of the newest – elements of a modern marketing strategy is Content Marketing.  The idea is that if your “content” is everywhere, then would-be clients would be easily attracted to you. Unfortunately, many marketers miss a crucial aspect of this: that the content must be valuable in […]

Read More